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Second Edition Cycling News, Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Date published:
February 05, 2014, 0:00 GMT
  • Wiggins: Only a handful of clean Tour de France winners

    Bradley Wiggins (Great Britain) on the podium for his second place finish in the 2013 time trial Worlds
    Article published:
    February 05, 2014, 11:16 GMT
    Cycling News

    Brit says his status gives him a responsibility

    Bradley Wiggins [Sky] believes that he is one of only a handful of clean riders to have won the Tour de France.

    “It is quite rare in cycling,” Wiggins said at a team training camp in Mallorca. “There aren’t many Tour winners with no [doping] history. You can count them on one hand.”

    Over the last decade many former Tour de France victors have been found to have taken banned substances in pursuit of the yellow jersey. Most notably, Lance Armstrong was stripped of his seven titles after an extensive investigation into the doping practices employed by the US Postal team.

    Alberto Contador had his 2010 win struck off his palmarès, after he tested positive for clenbuterol on the second rest day of the race. While the only rider to step on the podium in 2005 not to have been belatedly disqualified is Ivan Basso, who was later banned for his part in Operación Puerto.

    The 2012 winner says that this status gives him an element of duty. “It’s a very small club, and it gives you a responsibility, in a way, to preach that to the world,” said the Brit. “As a Tour winner with credibility, with no history, no skeletons in the closet, people are inspired by that.”

    Wiggins missed last year’s race, but is looking to regain his position in the Sky team for July. Defending champion Chris Froome will lead the nine-man squad, but Wiggins has said that he is happy to support his team-mate. His first big targets of the year, however, are

  • Scarponi confident Nibali can beat Sky at Tour de France

    Michele Scarponi is expected to provide key, super-domestique support for Vincenzo Nibali during the 2014 Tour de France
    Article published:
    February 05, 2014, 13:01 GMT
    Cycling News

    Italian pleased with his start at Astana

    Michele Scarponi (Astana) believes that his new teammate Vincenzo Nibali can topple Sky at the Tour de France.

    “Winning the Tour de France is not going to be easy but Vincenzo has all the credentials to fight for the yellow jersey,” Scarponi told Tuttobici.

    Nibali last rode the Tour de France in 2012, where he finished third. The Italian was beaten by the Sky pairing of Bradley Wiggins and Chris Froome. It is likely that he will have to take on the duo once again, with Wiggins set to return to the Tour team this year.

    Sky has won the previous two editions of the race and has dominated both occasions, nonetheless, Scarponi is confident of his teammate’s chances. “Vincenzo is one of the strongest riders, he won the Giro and took a podium finish in the Vuelta, in addition to having twice won Tirreno-Adriatico.”

    There were plenty of rumours as to where Scarponi would end up this season, as his contract with Lampre-Merida ran its course. In the end Scarponi joined Astana over the winter, on a single-year contract. The 2011 Giro d’Italia winner says the switch was necessary, “because I needed new challenges.”

    In joining Astana he finds himself in a support role, rather than the leadership position he is used to. Scarponi will have a few of his own opportunities at the Giro, but the 34-year-old will have keep himself fresh for the Tour de France in July.

    “This year I will have the task of doing a good Giro...

  • Video: Phinney happy after Dubai Tour time trial victory

    Taylor Phinney (Team BMC)
    Article published:
    February 05, 2014, 13:55 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    "I really, really, wanted to win," says American

    Taylor Phinney (BMC) came to the Dubai Tour focused on winning the opening time trial and setting up a shot at overall success. Phinney put out a huge 490 watts for 12 minutes, touching speeds of 60km early on the course, with the help of a tail wind, as he raced towards victory on Wednesday.

    After winning the 9.9km time trial in downtown Dubai, pulling on the first ever race leader's blue jersey and distancing his main rivals by at least 20 seconds, he was rightly satisfied with his day.

    "I really, really, wanted to win. It's been a couple of months that I've been thinking about this race, ever since the course was released online," he told Cyclingnews.

    "I know I had a good chance to win and I knew I had stiff competition, some of the best guys in the world at this distance are here. I was super, super nervous in the final couple of minutes as I watched Tony [Martin] but so relieved and so happy when I found out I'd won"

    Phinney leads teammate Steve Cummings by 14 seconds, with Lasse Norman Hansen (Garmin-Sharp) third overall at 16 seconds. Phinney can fight for the three-two-one bonus seconds on offer at stage finishes and the one second bonuses offered at two intermediate sprints on each stage.

    He is slightly worried about possible crosswinds and the dangers of attacks in echelons but knows that BMC has selected a team for this four-day race that would be ready to ride for him.

    "I'll have to look at [the results] more in detail and see where the sprinters are. You never know with sprint finishes and bonus seconds. It'll be windy and you can gain or lose a lot in the wind. But we'll be up there at the front controlling the race and we'll take it one day at a time," he said.


  • Tony Martin angry after being obliged to start last at Dubai Tour

    World TT champion Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-QuickStep)
    Article published:
    February 05, 2014, 14:32 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    German suspects Phinney benefitted from less wind during his early ride

    Tony Martin (Omega Pharma-Quick-Step) warmed down on the rollers after finishing fourth in the opening time trial at the Dubai Tour, but nothing seemed to ease the German's disappointment and anger after missing out on victory.

    Martin set a time of 12:35 for the 9.9km time trial but was 22 seconds slower than winner Taylor Phinney (BMC), who seems to have set up overall victory.

    Phinney opted to start the time trial early, in the hope that the wind would increase, as the riders had seen during training on Tuesday, while Martin was obliged to start last by race organisers as he is the current time trial world champion.

    There were no clear signs that the American garnered a significant advantage and Martin was well beaten. But the usually self-controlled German was angry that all the favourites did not start in the same final block of riders.

    "I felt really good, my motivation was good and I wanted to win here. It would have been nice if all the big guys had started in the same block. I wanted to start first but had to start last," Martin said to Cyclingnews and several other journalists who gathered around him as he warmed down.

    "It's hard to say if the wind was the reason why, or if it was the legs. At the end (of the day) I still have the question but I don't have the answer."

    "I don't want to say that starting earlier means I'd have won but I wanted to win. I understand they wanted me to start last, but they should then tell all the big guys to start at the end. My sports directeurs was fighting for me but when the race organisation says no, you can't fight it. If they want me to win, that's it. Next time they know it."

    Cyclingnews spoke to race organisers RCS Sport but they were...

  • Gallery: Boonen happy with new Tour of Flanders course

    Tom Boonen before the recce
    Article published:
    February 05, 2014, 16:15 GMT
    Cycling News

    Belgian recces route with teammates Stybar and Keisse

    Tom Boonen [Omega Pharma-QuickStep] approves of the changes to the Tour of Flanders course, after he had his first look at the new route.

    "It will be exciting for the spectators, but also for the riders themselves is something new," said Boonen. "I think this final a lot more interesting than the previous edition."

    In 2012 the race organisers Flanders Classics changed the route to include three ascents of the Oude Kwaremont and the Paterberg, but saw the iconic Muur van Geraardsbergen disappear.

    The changes were criticised for dampening the attacks with too many flat sections. The revamped look still includes the Oude Kwaremont and Paterberg as the final two, but prior to them is a much harder run-up.

    The Belgian, who missed last year's race due to injury, is happy with the changes and he believes that they will suit him. “The final last year was completely locked,” said the three-time Flanders champion.

    “The last loop is retained now, but there is less recovery time. In fact, the Tour of Flanders is now fully open, from the Koppenberg. This new route is in my favour. The more difficult the better.”

    Boonen tested out the altered parcours earlier this week, which included the new finishing loop. The Belgian was joined by his teammates, Iljo Keisse and the newly crowned cyclo-cross world champion Zdenek Stybar.

    Stybar’s big focus will be Paris-Roubaix, the weekend after Flanders, but he has been deemed an outsider for de Ronde. The Czech rider...

  • Cancellara shrugs off disappointing time trial result in Dubai

    Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing)
    Article published:
    February 05, 2014, 17:30 GMT
    Stephen Farrand

    Spartacus riding Dubai, Qatar and Oman in pursuit of form for the Classics

    Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing) had warned that he would not be a threat for victory in the opening time trial at the Dubai Tour and shrugged off his below average ride and fifth place finish, 25 seconds slower than stage winner Taylor Phinney.

    Cancellara admitted that he spent a week without training in mid-January after being in an accident with a car near his home in Bern, Switzerland. That affected his training, and he plans to ride a triptych of the Dubai Tour, the Tour of Qatar and the Tour of Oman to get his form back to where he wants it.

    "The accident cost me one week on the bike. When you get hit and have a lot of pain in your elbow, you can't just do the rollers at home. It fatigues your body even more," he said after his ride as the sun set in downtown Dubai.

    "I was sick after the first training camp [in December] and put on a kilo at Christmas. So losing the three weeks means it's uncertain how the form will come for the spring. But I'm here for three weeks, I'm racing all three races and then I'll return to Europe to see how it goes."

    Cancellara rarely seems to suffer on the bike, especially in time trials, but admitted the 9.9km time trial hurt.

    "I felt like I was missing a lung in the final two kilometres," he joked.

    "I've done some efforts in training but you can’t compare it. I was full of acid in my legs. I've always said that the hardest thing is to do time trials when you're not in condition, you have more pain than ever. When you're in good condition, 10km is somehow easier."

    While almost every rider competing in Dubai will head home after Saturday's fourth and final stage, Cancellara will...

  • Sánchez: BMC was my last chance

    Samuel Sanchez Gonzalez (Euskaltel-Euskadi) in time trial mode
    Article published:
    February 05, 2014, 20:40 GMT
    Cycling News

    Spaniard says his decision was not based on money

    Samuel Sánchez came close to hanging up his wheels after months of uncertainty surrounding his team for 2014, until BMC signed him last week and allowed his career to continue.

    “This was the last chance,” Sánchez said in an interview with Spanish newspaper Marca. “If I didn’t go with BMC, it would have been impossible. We had exhausted all avenues.”

    The Olympic champion had a contract with Euskaltel-Euskadi until 2015, but the team folded at the end of last season. Problems with ending that contract meant that Sánchez had to postpone his search for a new deal.

    Amidst the setbacks, Sánchez has continued to train but says that it wasn’t easy. “It was hard and train hard to leave without knowing for sure if you were going to ride,” he explains.

    “But I like the bike and I'm in love with this profession, for which I have passion. The break with Euskaltel was delayed and prevented me seeking accommodation with more time. But in the end we came to agreement satisfactory to both parties.”

    Sánchez may have found a team sooner, but he rejected some lower offers. Like Vuelta a España champion Chris Horner, those rejections almost forced him out of the sport for a season. He believes the struggles were worth the rewards, but says his decisions were not based on the financial incentives.

    “I don’t race for money, far from it. I race for passion, like I’ve always done,” says the Spaniard. “The work has been done by my new agent, Joona Laukka, to whom I am grateful, and who has led me to the best possible team. The trajectory of the team and myself,...

  • Olds keen for fresh start in 2014 with Alé Cipollini

    The leaders of the classifications on stage 2: Melissa Hoskins, Shelley Olds and Kirsten Wild
    Article published:
    February 05, 2014, 21:51 GMT
    Barry Ryan

    American seeks success at Giro Donne, World Cups, La Course

    After a season plagued by a niggling knee problem, Shelley Olds is keen for a fresh start in 2014 in the fluorescent colours of the Alé Cipollini squad. Indeed, the American spent the best part of two years managing the injury before calling a premature halt to her 2013 campaign in order to deal with it in earnest.

    "It's an ongoing issue because it's like a tendinitis type-thing and I just have to manage it, but it's been really good this year," Olds told Cyclingnews at the Ladies Tour of Qatar.

    The problem first manifested itself in early 2012, as Olds prepared for her ill-starred turn in the road race at the London Olympics, when an untimely puncture cruelly eliminated her from the winning break. Although Olds continued to race and win through 2012 and the opening half of 2013, she was eventually forced into the doleful decision to hand back her selection for the American team for the world championships in Florence.

    "Of course, I wanted to be a part of the Worlds team, but unfortunately it was something I just couldn't push through anymore," she said. "It was a pity as I wanted to be there to represent my country and help the team, because it was a good course for the US."

    Olds' arrival at Alé Cipollini marks her second spell at an Italian team, after spending the 2011 campaign in the colours of Diadora-Pasta Zara. The Philadelphia Classic could be Olds' only race on home roads this year, as she will race almost exclusively in Europe. It's a marked change from her 2013 programme at TIBCO in 2013, when Olds jetted back and forth to the United States, which she reckons may have...